HAMILTON,ON–Let’s skip the fluff and get right into it.
On the second day of action at the UPlay Winter Showcase #NPHTop25 member, St. John’s Kilmarnock (a top 2 HS Canadian team all year) upset perennial American powerhouse team from the United States, Indiana’s La Lumiere by a score of 56-55. Man of the hour for SJK was the same guy who has been the rock for them all season, senior point guard Michael Ganson.
To put things in perspective how big of an upset this is, nearly the entire roster at La Lumiere will go on to play NCAA basketball at various levels. They have three players who are 6’10 plus; two who have been involved with their respective National Teams, hometown kid Nolan Narain (Canada) and Issac Humphries (Australia).
Their third big man Alex Olesinski is being recruited at the highest levels in the NCAA by conferences such as the ACC, PAC 12, Conference USA and others.
As you know from the extensive coverage on our favourite 2015 guard, Munis Tutu is also a heavy contributor on this team.
Now, SJK has some solid players, they’re not the #2 ranked Canadian team for no reason, but on paper they simply have no business beating La Lumiere.
SJK was coming off of three straight losses to Ridley, which had eliminated them from AAAA OFSAA contention earlier this month, so this win leaves them finishing the season on a very high note and brings the morale of the team back up.
Never underestimate your opponent.
This mantra will seep deeply with La Lumiere.
They came out in the first quarter like they already had the game won and SJK as if they wanted to take someone’s head off.
Despite having a lack of size, outside of their tenth grader Liam Courtney, SJK defended the paint by denying entry passes and sealing out second chance opportunities.
Deshawn Laior (12 points) used his strong base to box out bigs and didn’t allow them to establish low-mid post position.
Ganson went up against La Lu’s towers like we’ve seen him do time and time again. He has the body control that allows him to absorb contact and finish.
He had eight fourth quarter points and finished the game with 16.
The entire fourth quarter went back and forth with both teams staying within four points.
La Lumiere’s opportunity to put the nail in the coffin was in the second quarter with a 10 point lead and Liam Courtney on the bench in foul trouble.
This game is going to be remembered in the Canadian basketball community because of it’s timing.
With the lust spreading of Canadian kids wanting to go to American Prep schools, this is a statement win, and will affect their decisions moving forward.
Post-secondary school coaches are becoming more familiar with the Canadian landscape and have visited over 20 high schools this season. Maybe it’s a better option to stay home?
Canadian Rising Stars Game
The first annual Canadian Rising Stars Game brought a collection of players from different high schools and club programs who put on a show for a strong Hamilton crowd at Mohawk College.
Rosters were loaded with future NCAA talent including names such as Abu Kigab, Christian David, Jordan Henry, Kajon Gordon-Stephens and more.
Shai Alexander (Team Blue) is another that you can add to that list. This lengthy 2017 guard put up a game high 22 points and took it to whoever was daring enough to get in front of him on defense.
It was Red Team that came out with the win and Kigab (Team Red) the player of the game as he brought the heat to his new AAU teammate for this summer Christian David.
The two will play on UPlay this summer on the Adidas circuit with a team that could have the best 2017 group in Canada.
Father Goetz Gator, Jaelin Llewellyn played on Team Blue and displayed a great feel and bunnies that we did not know he had. On one play in transition it looked like he was going up for a strong take protecting the ball with his body and instead exploded to throw it down with two hands.
While we’re on the topic of bunnies…Kajon Gordon-Stephens, now that’s a high flyer. His style of play resembles Marcus Ottey, from his dunks to his explosive first step.